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Security tightened around studios after N.Y. bomb attempt

Law enforcement officials say sites linked to the Comedy Central show 'South Park' have received extra protection.

May 04, 2010|Richard Winton

Los Angeles-area law enforcement officials said Monday that after the attempted bombing in New York's Times Square, police had stepped up patrols around entertainment studios.

Police across Southern California say they are prepared to handle an attack. But they stressed the importance of alert residents in the security equation: It was a New York street vendor who noticed the SUV emitting smoke Saturday and reported it to authorities.

"New York is another wake-up call to us in the United States," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

"We cannot afford to not be aware of what happened in New York."

Baca said that although excellent counterterrorism resources exist, "the reality of the situation in New York was it was a member of the public who prevented a horrific explosion."

He said he was unaware of any new threats to the L.A. region, but his department already was on heightened alert at Universal Studios and CityWalk.

"We have an extensive awareness at Universal Studios. But we rely on the public substantially to spot anything unusual and report it," Baca said.

"Large gatherings of people are among the most obvious targets."

Although the NYPD hasn't identified a suspect in Saturday's attempted bombing, the proximity to Viacom headquarters there spurred speculation that the company was targeted because of a recent episode of Comedy Central's "South Park" involving the prophet Muhammad. Viacom owns the Comedy Central network. Late Monday, police announced an arrest in the case.

Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Trisler says the department is aware of the reports regarding Viacom. "We continue to be vigilant when it comes to the MTV location," he said. At Lionsgate and MTV offices in Santa Monica on Monday, there was stepped-up security in the form of uniformed guards checking vehicle trunks and stopping visitors at a side entrance.

One of the corporate garage entrances was closed to funnel traffic through a central inspection point.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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